Diabetes, Risk Factors and Heart Disease

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in people with diabetes. People with diabetes are two to four times more likely to develop heart disease. This is why diabetics are often prescribed medication to control blood pressure and blood cholesterol.

High blood sugar in diabetes contributes to the premature aging of the arteries and accelerates the process of atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is the cause of most cardiovascular events, such as stroke and myocardial infarction (heart attack).

Possible complications because of atherosclerosis in diabetes are –
Heart: angina, heart attack (MI, myocardial infarction), heart failure, arrhythmia
Brain: stroke (manifested by paralysis, dizziness, aphasia)
Lower limbs: pain while walking (claudication), gangrene, amputation


Risk factors

In addition to diabetes, other factors can contribute to cardiovascular disease. They are identified according to whether they are modifiable or not modifiable.

Non-modifiable risk factors:

Age and sex: men over 45 and women over 55 or postmenopausal
Family history: Immediate family members with heart disease before age 55 or stroke before age 65
Ethnic origin: Indigenous people and people of African or South Asian descent

Modifiable risk factors

High Blood Pressure
High levels of blood cholesterol
Excessive alcohol consumption
Physical inactivity or sedentary lifestyle
Smoking and



It is possible to act on modifiable risk factors and reduce cardiovascular complications to some extent. Adopting healthy lifestyles helps protect heart health. The earlier you act, the more are the long-term benefits. Here are ways to do it:

  • Adopting a Healthy Heart Diet
  • Regular practice of physical activities adapted to your physical and medical condition
  • Healthy weight management
  • Moderate alcohol consumption
  • Stop smoking
  • Healthy Stress Management
  • Optimal control of glycemia (fasting glucose or blood sugar on an empty stomach between 4 and 7 mmol / L and 2 hr after meals between 5 and 10 mmol / L. Glycosylated haemoglobin or HbA1C at values ​​equal to or less than 7%)
  • Optimal control of blood lipids (LDL-C at values ​​equal to or less than 2 mmol / L)
  • Optimal control of blood pressure (values ​​equal to or less than 130/80 mmHg)
  • Taking medication as prescribed
  • Attendance at appointments with the healthcare team: medical follow-up and annual blood test